Hunting for the Health of It: Intellectual

Just as a day afield can span the emotional spectrum from absolute peace and calm to a heart pounding adrenalin rush, it also can offer the opportunity to clear and free the mind, or engage its sharpest powers of calculation, interpretation, and recall. And the beauty of hunting is we are all free to pursue what pleases us most.

Today is opening day! To some it means the chance to return to that favorite overlook and watch the sun rise and just relax in the arms of nature. To others it means getting the chance to put into play the serious studying and preparations that led up to this day. For myself and the rest of the DNR wildlife management staff, opening day means we get to exercise our skills in pseudo-dentistry. Our day is filled with lingual and buccal crests, infundibulums and incisors, deciduous premolars and diastimas. We re-familiarize ourselves with this tooth terminology through annual recertification so we can collect the age of about 20,000 deer across the state this weekend.

Mental exercise is just as important to overall wellness as physical exercise. And while our staff are putting their minds to work aging deer, the rest of you aren’t exactly giving your brains a vacation either. You’ve collected a lot of knowledge and insight over the years (or have at least got a good start) and now it’s time to put it to work. You’ve read books and magazine articles on deer ecology and behavior, hunting strategies timed with the calendar and lunar tables. There are deer calls and scents, and proper times and ways to use them. Perhaps you’ve learned to measure antlers and enjoy estimating the score of bucks you’ve gotten to know in your neighborhood. And let’s not forget the guns…assessing the pros and cons of different calibers, and considering the ballistic performance of different weight and shaped bullets. Yes there is no shortage of mental calisthenics going on this weekend.

And to fully appreciate the significance of the hunt and reap the rewards of the experience, one needs to consider the history and the heritage we are a part of. An awareness of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and the restoration of both game and non-game species of wildlife across the country, made possible by our investment in both government conservation agencies and non-profit conservation organizations. And to protect and pass on our heritage, it is important to be informed on current socio-political policy development and impacts. There’s always something to think about.

Tomorrow we will take a look at your surroundings.

Live Wild, Live Well
Jeff Pritzl

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